"Sylville's name shouldn't be remembered in riots:" One year anniversary of Sherman Park Unrest approaches

NOW: “Sylville’s name shouldn’t be remembered in riots:“ One year anniversary of Sherman Park Unrest approaches

August 13th will mark one year since the unrest in Milwaukee's Sherman Park Neighborhood.

One of the central factors of that unrest was Sylville Smith who was shot and killed by Milwaukee Police Officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown. Heaggan-Brown was later found not guilty of homicide charges.

CBS 58 News sat down with Smith's brother and cousin who say their fight is not over.

"He was only a year younger than me so everything I learned how to do, he learned to do pretty much the same time. We was real close. We learned how to do gymnastics together we used to flip in the front yard all the time," said Sedan Smith, Brother of Sylville Smith.

Sedan Smith says it's hard to believe that nearly a year has gone by.

"Since he's been gone, I try to find a way to keep his name alive. This past year has been rough but it's really been a continuous fight."

Sedan Smith says his family had to fight to get the former officer charged with homicide.

After a trial where the jury reviewed Heggan-Brown's body camera video in court, they found him not guilty and that the shooting was justified.

"Certain parts of it made me leave the courtroom. We wasn't ready to take a loss," Sedan Smith said.

After 23-year-old Sylville Smith was killed, people set businesses and homes in the Sherman Park Neighborhood on fire, destroyed property, and started a full fledged riot in that area of Milwaukee.

"It's a night I don't choose to relive. I seen a camera crew and I took the opportunity to actually speak and what I actually felt." Sedan Smith said.

"I was very angry at the time that this was going on. I couldn't believe that Sylville was actually gone and to see the community go up in a blaze like it did it just added to the tragedy that was already erupting in our life," Sedan Smith said.

Sedan Smith's cousin Thaddeus Ashford says he lost his brother to gun violence in Chicago that same week. Going through that grief together has helped them get through the last year.

"This is the biggest fight I ever had to go through and for me to witness somebody else that's afflicted by it but it still afflicts me it just something you never wish on nobody," said Thaddeus Ashford.

Sylville's name is now connected with the chaos in Sherman Park. His brother says it's put their family in somewhat of a strange spotlight but they say their home is to make a positive change.

"Sylville's name shouldn't be remembered in riots. He was a brother, he was a son, he was a father, he was an uncle, he was a nephew. That's what his name should be remembered as."

Sedan Smith says the family is working on getting de-escalation legislation passed which would have a strict protocol on how officers deal with perceived threats. This Sunday, they plan on having a book bag giveaway for children in the Sherman Park community. 

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